Posts Tagged ‘Installation Art


Day 327: Michelle Molinari and Georgie Mattingley

Michelle Molinari 1

Michelle Molinari 2

Day 327: Mortality Observed, by Michelle Molinari

Some of the VCA students explore in their works the ever popular subject matter of animals in art – although in our day and age it has progressed far beyond the tableaux of such Old Masters of the genre as Jacob Jordaens, Melchior d’Hondecoeter or Rosa Bonheur. The way in which Michelle Molinari approaches taxidermy, for example, brings to mind Joseph Kosuth and his famous installations of a chair, a photo of the chair, and a copy of the dictionary definition of the chair.

The majority of Australian artists who are focusing on taxidermy in their oeuvre usually work within a single media – be it sculpture, painting, or photography. Molinari, on the other hand, works across various media by presenting within a single space taxidermy installations of animals, which are accompanied by paintings and lithographs that are derived from – or inspired by – these installations. Her painting technique is superb and meticulous; the ability to convey the textures of soft fabrics, cold glass domes, fox fur and bird feathers are outstanding. Accompanying lithographs show that Molinari can successfully convey the sensation of differing tactile textures across a number of mediums with great precision and accuracy.

Georgie Mattingley 1

Georgie Mattingley 2

Day 327 bis: White Anaesthesia, by Georgie Mattingley

Georgie Mattingley’s three channel video White Anaesthesia is truly mesmerising to behold. A white cat, a white mouse, and a white goldfish are slowly waking up from either a natural or chemically-induced slumber. The lazy way in which cats wake up by opening one eye, then the other, then carefully surveying their surroundings before finally deigning to lift their heads would be familiar to any of the cat lovers. The movements of the mouse – and especially of the goldfish that at the start of the video lies listlessly at the bottom of the aquarium – are more mysterious and more curious to observe.

One can easily read into this installation underlying subtexts of the hidden, of the subliminal, of the predator and the prey, and perhaps even ethical questions of science experiments and animal welfare. But what one truly takes away from this work is the most incredible aesthetic effect of the all-pervading, unifying, minimalist white.

Works by Michelle Molinari and Georgie Mattingley are on view at the Victorian College of the Arts until November 25.

[© Eugene Barilo von Reisberg 2012; where applicable, images are courtesy of the artists and their galleries]


Day 326: Installations by Samantha Riegl and Kenny Pittock

Samantha Riegl

Day 326: This Item Belonged to My Boyfriend, by Samantha Riegl

A number of works in the current VCA Graduate Exhibition reflect that the artists are navigating the chirpy waters of artistic careers as well as personal relationships. Samantha Riegl’s installation of carefully arranged items on uniform white shelves is reminiscent at first of an arrangement from an upmarket clothing and lifestyle boutique. Only later the viewer’s eye pans over an inscription on the wall that explains how the objects relate to each other: “This item belonged to my boyfriend”, the sign proclaims in big black thick letters. The viewer is then invited to take a business card with an address of a web link leading the viewer to the online sale of the boyfriend’s effects… Revenge is a dish best served… online!

Kenny Pittock 1

Kenny Pittock 2

 Day 326 bis: Installation by Kenny Pittock

This subject matter is picked up in Kenny Pittock’s installation, where brand packaging for 60 metres of cling wrap is altered to proclaim ‘Clingy Ex-Boyfriend – 60 months’. This tongue-in-cheek recreation of a supermarket product forms a part of a large-scale installation where the artist had replicated, in a variety of media (wood, acrylic, ceramics, wax, etc), such items of our daily existence as fruit, chocolates, ice creams and other sugary treats, medicines, remote controls, and the ubiquitous laptops and flat-screen TV sets. However, he ‘doctored’ a number of brand names that now read Sadbury, Adjusted Juice, Nitpic, Kitsch-Kat, and Feelnum. A packet of condoms comes with a detailed explanation why they are branded as ‘regular’; and a large TV screen with the logo of Sky News shows… a picture of the sky.

Most objects within Pittock’s installation are arranged in a long continuous frieze along the wall, the aesthetics of which involuntarily bring to mind wall decorations and carvings of ancient Egypt. Indeed, if this installation was to be preserved for future generations, it will tell as much about our contemporary popular culture as excavated artefacts and hieroglyphs do about ancient civilisations.

[© Eugene Barilo von Reisberg 2012; where applicable, images are courtesy of the artists and their galleries]


Day 315: The Russian Project, by Laresa Kosloff

Laresa Kosloff Russian Project

Day 315: The Russian Project, by Laresa Kosloff

At first glance, Laresa Kosloff’s Chita Monument (2012) appears as a large-scale static photographic image rather than a continuous video. Everything is absolutely still in front of the imposing monument in the centre of an empty civic square. The low angle at which it is shot heightens the feeling of the pathos and significance of this unmistakeable Soviet-era monument, displaying all the vestiges of the Social-Realist art movement favoured by the former Communist regime. The bleakness of the square over which the monument reigns supreme, and the dreary ordinariness of the brutalist-style apartment blocks in the background make the image look so stereotypically “Soviet-era” as if was taken twenty, thirty, or forty years ago.

However, after a while, a girl walks past it; then another; then a mother carrying a child, all dressed in contemporary fashion, in denim, high heels, or sporting fashionable shoulder bags and sun glasses. Their Western-style attire seems almost dystopian against the background sculpture and architecture.

It is in this way that Kosloff carefully weighs into the controversial subject of cultural relevance. While the essence of the monument, which commemorates soldiers and civilians of the City of Chita who died during the Civil War, is as valuable as even the most humble cenotaph in rural Australia, the bombastic Communist propaganda which imbues and overwhelms the statue seems to invalidate its commemorative message. In the former times, a monument like this would have been adorned with fresh flowers and surrounded with beribboned wreaths. Today, those walking past the monument hardly give it a second glance.

[© Eugene Barilo von Reisberg 2012; where applicable, images are courtesy of the artists and their galleries.]


Day 311: I Build My Time, by Sally Smart


Day 311: I Build My Time, by Sally Smart.

The recent exhibition of Sally Smart’s works at Fehily Contemporary, I Build My Time, features mixed media collages that resemble life-size human figures engaged in a feverish dance. Their bodies are twirling; arms are flailing; and their limbs are twisted in a rhythmic movement that reverberates from one work to the next.

An entire gallery wall was turned by Smart into a sketch pad or a story board where themes and ideas for the exhibition are being worked out. They feature studies and diagrams; samples of fabrics and other materials that later appear in the collages; as well as names, words, and phrases that collectively provide an invaluable insight to the finished works.

The inscriptions on the wall confirm the pivotal influence on Smart’s works of the Dada, avant-garde and early modernist art movements, and especially of its female exponents and theorists such as Hannah Hoch, Sophie Tauber, and Gertrude Stein. The presence of names of world-renowned prima ballerinas, Martha Graham among them, unlocks the mystery behind the source of the fluid theatrical gestures of Smart’s dancing figures.

A further dimension to the current body of work is provided by the accompanying video projection. It features a shadow ballet performed to the sonorous voice of a narrator who recounts a mythological story reminiscent of “The Origin of Love”, one of the central songs from Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Imbued by the context of the video, Smart’s life-size mixed media collage figures emerge in a different light as they now seem to employ the feverish power of dance to reassemble their fractured and contorted body parts into one complete and loving whole.

[© Eugene Barilo von Reisberg 2012; where applicable, images are courtesy of the artists and their galleries.]


Symphonic Encounters @ Linden Centre for Contemporary Arts

Lauren BerkowitzFriday, 22 June 2012

Symphonic Encounters @ Linden 

Symphonic Encounters at the Linden Centre for Contemporary Arts, curated by Melanie Flynn and Rachel Watts, unites six female artists, each of whom addresses an aspect of environment in their work. Lauren Berkowitz’s creations are instantly recognisable for her use (or rather re-use) of found materials. The installation consists of cricket balls, shredded and dyed bright orange, pink, and red, then interwoven and suspended from the ceiling, becoming evocative of a membranous, living organism; a cocoon folding in on itself. Berkowitz’s innate aesthetic sense and ability to turn the everyday into the elegant and ethereal are arguably unique.

Helga GrovesHelga Groves creates an equally sublime atmosphere within her space where tear-drop shaped lead weights are suspended from the ceiling and the walls on delicately interwoven pastel-coloured nylon threads. The gentle colours of the threads are echoed in floor installations where transparent semi-spheres are placed on variously coloured and shaped felt cut-outs. They rest in turn on circular sheets of perspex and appear floating above the ground by means of cleverly concealed bases. The installation creates a sensation of a moist, tropical microclimate, as the complement of tear-drop shaped lead weights and floating semi-spheres echoes the experience of bubbles forming on water surfaces.

Kate TuckerAnother intriguing mixed media installation occurs in Kate Tucker’s room, where found objects are arranged in an extravagantly oversize, floor-to-ceiling, Dale-Chihuly-meets-hobo-chic chandelier. Whether intentionally or not, the rising jets of hot air from the heating ducts caused the installation to sway gently in a sonorously mesmerising rhythm. Coloured gels and other transparent materials are pasted on the windows, creating a stained glass effect; and a modestly sized abstract painting is placed over the mantelpiece. Broken and fractured shapes of the objects within the ‘chandelier’, as well as their various colours, are echoed in the ‘stained glass’ windows and the painting thus visually uniting all three elements of the installation.

Soo-Joo YooThe biggest surprise of the exhibition is reserved for the Soo-Joo Yoo’s room, which was clearly conceived as a total environment and a complete space. Every element within the room is controlled by the artist, including the lighting. The natural light is blocked off, and instead the room is bathed in an eerie yellow glow. It provides a powerful foil for every object in the installation, the colours of which are reduced to various shades of white, grey, or black. Every matter appears suspended, including air, water, paper, plastic, stone, and steel; but for all the cacophony of shapes, angles, heights, and projections, the installation culminates into a complete oneness, a visual whole, an elegantly aesthetic site of contemplative meditation.

Brit SaltUpon reflection, this is the element that unites all exhibits of the show. Each room is conceived as a total environment; each room has elements that echo the objects in other rooms; and there is a great visual continuity and dialogue between the spaces. As the result, the exhibition creates a cohesive viewing experience and becomes memorable not only for the individual installations but also for the sum of all parts. It is so encouraging to see an exhibition of works by innovative contemporary artists, intelligently and eruditely arranged by the curators who were able to seek out and / or commission a broad range of works for an inspiring, aesthetically memorable, and visually ethereal exhibition.

[© Eugene Barilo von Reisberg 2012; installation photography: Eugene Barilo von Reisberg 2012; where applicable, images are courtesy of the artists and their galleries.]


Rosslynd Piggott @ TarraWarra

PIGGOTT Air of flower clouds etched glass tube and card boxWednesday, 27 April 2011

Rosslynd Piggott @ TarraWarra Museum of Art

One of the advantages of being intimately involved with Australian art world for the last twenty years is an ability to follow, compare, contrast, analyse and consider the development of careers of Australian artists. I am writing this as I am looking at Rosslynd Piggott’s exhibition Dividing Infinity: A Room for Painting at the TarraWarra Museum of Art. I would readily describe Piggott as one of Australia’s most imaginative and thought-provoking conceptual and installation artists. Her solo exhibition, Suspended Breath, at the National Gallery of Victoria in 1998, is still indelibly imprinted in my memory as one of my major revelations in contemporary Australian art; and a concurrent realisation and confirmation that conceptual and installation art are legitimate forms of art and artistic expression in the pluralistic context of contemporary art.

PIGGOTT_Double bough_2007_alteredHer current exhibition at the TWMA gives a glimpse, an echo of the works that so impressed me at that exhibition. Air of Flower Clouds of 2002 is an elegant glass vessel, with an etched inscription telling us that it contains air, collected under a cherry blossom tree in Japan. Whether or not this is indeed the fact is perhaps beyond the point, and this is virtually impossible to verify: the air would escape and evaporate the moment we open this delicate-looking vial. However, the very evocation, the very idea of preserving a scent of air (no doubt influenced by Marcel Duchamp’s efforts to bottle Parisian air for a French expatriate millionaire who claimed to have everything money could buy), is inspiring, thought-provoking, and strangely uplifting – as is the sublime idea itself of collecting air as a memory of sites and places you visited rather than more ubiquitous photo shots.

PIGGOTT_Void blossom_2007-8_alteredPiggott’s exhibition at the NGV was filled with imaginative and clever marvels of this kind. The current show at the TWMA, on the other hand, is dominated by recent painting. They are likewise sublime, meditative and beautiful, feminine even, covered with skeins upon skeins of delicate washes and glazes; their floating masses anchored by stronger compositional elements of design work. Although these paintings are perhaps interpretations in paint of the ‘bottled air’ concept (they are indeed breath-taking upon a closer and prolonged contemplation), I guess purely because they are paintings, such a traditional medium, they lacked for me the originality and inventiveness of her conceptual installations and three-dimensional objects.

PIGGOTT_Night blossom & double black holes_2007-8_alteredFurthermore – and this sentiment recurs throughout these pages – it is a pity that an artist of such undoubted talent chose to exhibit in a public gallery space works that would be just as ‘at home’ on the walls of a commercial gallery. I always feel that when artists basically clear out their (or their galleries’) stock room in order to whip out a show in a public gallery, they miss out on a rare and privileged opportunity to create something unique, special, and non-commercial, that – like the amazing exhibition of 1998 – would stay in minds of gallery visitors forever, as opposed to blending in with any other countless exhibition the artist might have had in her respective commercial spaces.

[© Eugene Barilo von Reisberg 2011. This article is copyright, but the full or partial use is WELCOME with the full and proper acknowledgement.]


New11 @ ACCA, Melbourne

ACCA NEW11 002 - Shane HasemanWednesday, 16 March 2011

New11 @ ACCA, Melbourne

There’s an old Russian saying: everything new is well-forgotten old. This thought pulsated through my mind as I was walking through a recently opened exhibition at the ACCA. There was so much borrowing, so much recycling of old ideas, that I began questioning whether the exhibition’s title, New 11, was actually warranted.

It’s a worrying trend, especially since the artists that are profiled at these annual exhibitions are supposedly our youngest, brightest, and the most promising, guaranteed to become the favoured staple of contemporary art curators and collectors for at least the next five years. However, with one or two exceptions, there’s hardly a truly original idea among them. We have already seen so much of this earlier, beforehand, in other galleries, in other museums, in other artists’ spaces, that one begins to wonder whether there is an assumption that everyone suffers from some sort of a cultural amnesia, and that no one else, apart from curators and exhibiting artists, is supposed to know what happened in the history of art, whether in Australia or internationally, prior to entering the exhibition space.

ACCA NEW11 005 - Brendan van Hek

For, indeed, once you leave all your prior acquired knowledge at the gallery’s threshold, you would actually end up experiencing an entertaining and enjoyable exhibition – as I had done in the end.

The visitor is met at the entrance to the ACCA – and once again at the entrance to the exhibition space – but Tim Coster’s Umbrella, a sound installation of amplified street noises. You then proceed into Shane Haseman’s installation Lanterne Rouge, with brightly-coloured walls and a bicycle suspended on brightly-coloured MDF shards. From this bright cacophony you emerge into a contrastingly understated, cool, white, minimal space with an installation by Brendan van Hek, The Person who cried a million tears, with three oval mirrors, five glass panels with circular cut outs, and variously sized mirror balls spray-painted uniform white, the only light source in the room being a Dan Flavin-style neon tubes.

ACCA NEW11 007 - Justene WilliamsThe next room is filled with Justene Williams’ She came over singing…, an eleven channel video installation. Once the eyes get used to the fast-moving, pulsating, and brightly-coloured visions that surround the viewer from all four sides of the room, you slowly begin to distinguish in the videos two completely masked figures, dressed head to toe in closely resembling outfits, one in a suit of newspaper and magazine clippings, another in a similar suit of brightly-coloured geometric designs; both are almost lost within interiors that completely match their outfits, wrecking havoc within their respective environments. It is only then that the menacing retinal and aural onslaught gives way to a harmless, humorous, and entertaining voyeurism.

ACCA NEW11 010 - Greatest HitsThe next room contains one of the cutest things in the exhibition – aquae profundo by Gavin Bell, Jarrah de Kuijer and Simon McGlinn, moonlighting as a creative trio Greatest Hits: an ice carving of an alien displayed in a glass freezer, whose humorous, cartoon-like appearance and demeanour is worlds apart from Marc Quinn’s haunting ‘blood heads’.

There is also Dan Moynihan’s installation of a skeleton seated on a mound of sand under a plastic palm tree listening to a CD-player (how retro!) in a cylindrical enclosure with rainbow coloured walls; the artifice of the installation underscored by an adjacent fully equipped Ilya Kabakov-style utility closet.

ACCA NEW11 017 - Mark Hilton ACCA NEW11 019 - Mark Hilton (Detail)This leads us to perhaps the most striking and original, as well as the most disturbing  and haunting sculpture by Mark Hilton (in the room which contains other works by the artist, including three sump oil paintings on paper, and an exquisitely carved human bone). Fashioned in a shape of a mark on the outfits of colonial convicts, and resembling a melted Cricifix, the wall sculpture presents a macabre rendition of Jacques Callot’s The Hanging from The Miseries of War suite, or Francisco de Goya’s The Disasters of War.  A tree is growing from the human DNA, on the branches of which the “undesirable” elements of society are hung: mentally and physically disabled; homeless, elderly, obese, and infirm; women in burkas and indigenous chieftains; prostitutes, drug addicts, and pregnant teens; paedophiles and their victims; and there’s even a statuette of a guy in a military uniform hung while choking with a rope another guy whom he is sodomising. The edge of the ‘Cross’ is etched with jokes and one-liners about women, obese, drug addicts, etc. To my mind, this is perhaps the strongest, most outstanding, accomplished, and most politically and socially aware work within the exhibition that shows it is possible to quote from other artists and yet create one’s own iconic ideas, and develop one’s own unique iconographic language.

ACCA NEW11 021 - Mark Hilton

[© Eugene Barilo von Reisberg 2011. This article is copyright, but the full or partial use is WELCOME with the full and proper acknowledgment]

Eugene Barilo v. Reisberg

April 2019
« Nov    


Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 104 other followers